In Suzi's Words

A little bit of laughter, inspiration, & encouragement

From Tennis Player to Caregiver ~ Updated with new information

Love my Bro!

Love my Bro!

This article originally published in December, 2012. It has been updated with new technological information to make your job as caregiver a lot easier!

The sandwich generation, that’s us; baby boomers who find themselves sandwiched between careers and caring for our parents or other family members who can no longer care for themselves. Caregiving is a full time job in and of itself; one which we take on with a full heart and gusto.

Taking on the role of caregiver usually means putting your own life aside for a season. Time once spent on the court, is now time spent sitting in doctor’s office waiting rooms, multiple trips to the pharmacy or ER, or learning to cook and shop for specialized meals.

Keep Your Sanity ~ Get Organized
Caregiving also takes an incredible amount of organization and attention to detail, especially if the one you are caring for requires multiple medications and has multiple medical specialists.

In my seven years of caring for my brother, who had up to nine simultaneous medications, some requiring daily dosage changes; four doctors – specialists in their respective fields – visited monthly; regular lab visits; two pieces of medical equipment to maintain; weight, liquid, and sodium intake charts to update daily; weekly reports and daily phone calls to one of his specialists; and a specialized diet to prepare – organization was as important as were his medications.

My saving grace was a 3-ring binder with color coded tabs. Each specialist was assigned a color, which correlated with the color of ink used to document each doctor’s appointment dates and times on my month-at-a-glance calendar – yes the good old hard-copy variety!

Since each doctor was with a different medical group, exchanging information from my brother’s appointments with each other didn’t always happen, and having the left hand know what the right hand was doing was essential. Given today’s technology, every doctor’s office receptionist has the ability to print out the doctor’s notes from that visit before you leave the office. Conveniently enough, they also all have 3-hole punches! My notebook was always with me and updated immediately with each doctor’s notes. Not only did this help me keep my brother’s medical issues organized in my overloaded brain, the doctors loved my notebook! I took it to every visit we had with every doctor. The cardiologist always knew what was happening with the pulmonologist and the oncologist, including the individual lab reports each one of them had ordered, which gave them the ability to adjust their recommendations accordingly.

My not so little notebook also helped me in other ways. I had a tab for meal plans that kept within my brother’s diet restrictions, and recipes that were nutritious and palatable for everyone. I had a section for contacts that were easy to access in an emergency, people and organizations that offered help when needed, insurance documents, and notes of the nurses and doctors favorite things, said in passing, to reference for gift ideas at Christmas time.

Employing Your Tennis Bag off the Court
As you can imagine, this was a lot to haul around! Not wanting to carry a very large purse or high school style backpack, it was time for my, very fashionable, tennis racquet bag to come out of the closet. It was perfect, stylish, and held everything I needed while sitting in a waiting room for hours on end. Did I mention it was stylish?

I kept my bag packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice, which made trips to the ER less frantic. Aside from my notebook, I always had new bottles of water, a good book to read, an extra pair of reading glasses, money for parking, my favorite tea bags, some chocolate (always a blessing during long nights in the ER), a sweater and a pair of warm socks, as hospitals are often cold, and an extra house key – don’t ask.

There’s an App for That!
I have recently discovered a new iPhone/iPad app called CareZone Mobile. Being a Droid girl myself, I have not used the app, however it looks like it will store all the information the binder will and then some – and it’s free! I have contacted CareZone directly and as if this writing {March 2013} they have assured me a release of the app for Android is “just around the corner”!

Whether you use the binder system or an iPad to keep yourself organized, I still recommend having a bag packed with ER trip essentials; just in case.

As caregivers, we may not be serving up victories on the tennis court, but we are serving up a lot of love!

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2 thoughts on “From Tennis Player to Caregiver ~ Updated with new information

  1. Excellent update!

  2. Thanks La Tanya. I wish I would have had this app years ago!!

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